Three weeks running I’ve been out on the bank! I usually only get 2 to 3 nights every few weeks so these concurrent sessions are a real rarity, and to be fair it certainly ended up being a session of firsts.
Having managed to catch one part of my interim target (being a thirty pounder from Crayfish Pool), I moved onto the next target I’d set whilst waiting for Church Lake fish to regain their former glory, post spawning. To be fair, upon arrival I had nothing else in my head other than to go and fish the Boat Pool just to try and capture a thirty from there. Either that or to go one better still and ‘cuddle’ the 40lb common who also resides in this reputedly head scratching water.
Having walked the Boat Pool I found 4 or 5 huge grass carp close in and upon closer inspection I spied the inky black outline of 2 large groups of fish were clearly visible though my Hi-Lo’s, around 40 yards out. I’d never seen anything like it before if I’m perfectly honest! Fish of all sorts, shapes and sizes had congregated together to revel in the summer sun. I plonked my bucket (or on this occasion an empty drink bottle) in the swim and proceeded stubbornly to walk Kingsmead 1, which is also on the complex, with a view to have checked all options before plonking in a swim.
Firstly, I popped over to the Island Lake for a chat with a friend fishing on there. The conversation was suddenly broken when we noticed across the water two people were swimming! It was a hot day, and obviously these girls were very hot as upon closer inspection we noticed they’d forgot there swimwear!! Skinny dippers were certainly a new one on me and after a few obligatory waves and when I’d finally prised the binoculars from my face I decided to proceed and look off the famous bridge that straddles these two large lakes.
WOW! To the right, looking into The Island Lake, there was nothing fishy to report. However, turning to the left and looking into the 30+ acres of Kingsmead One the sight astounded me. At least twenty five fish were basking and slowly manoeuvring through the mass of weed dominating this area of the lake. They were not little fish either! I was fixated, at least until I craned my neck further left and I saw it. Starry’s at 50lbs plus the very biggest of the entire Fantastic Horton complex carp!
She had found sanctuary in a dustbin lid sized hole in the weed, and only her huge wedge shaped cranium was really visible. Nevertheless, the way her head dwarfed the already identified 40lb+ Twin that was sat only a few yards away from this leviathan, I knew it was her…
Best laid plans and all that!
I scurried back and removed my kit from the now dismissed Boat Pool swim, all the time trying to compute the best way to approach my new found goldmine. The three options I had were to drop in right next to the weed bed where I’d spotted the big girl from the bridge and fish the famous Heli-Pad swim or to gamble and go in the next swim to the right known as The Bream swim in the hope that they’d move up along the quieter bank as the light levels fell to have a feed. The final option was to drop into Dog 4 which commanded the very weedy bay to the left of the Heli-Pad swim which was where, after much deliberation, I felt the fish were most likely to move into to feed.
Having walked the causeway between the latter two pegs the Bream Swim was soon discounted due to the numbers of fish I was spotting sunning themselves in the safe haven of this weedy bay. Eventually I opted for the Dog 4 option as I suspected that dropping right on ‘em and fishing form the the Heli would allow these wily big un’s to smell a rat!
I knew of two clear spots at around 25 yards out from Dog 4, as last time down I’d spent a few hours having a lead about in this bay. I felt that as the spots were only short, with thinner weed present along the line lay path caused by lead retrievals, it offered me my best chance of not only hooking but landing the fish in this heavily weeded bay.
Not being a gratuitous leadcore user, circumstances dictated I use it so a 45lb CamFlex leadcore leader was added. Due to my Mirage fluorocarbon (0.37) line being on the surface in various areas along the path to my rig I felt in this situation by using the leadcore it gave me that serious weight needed to counteract any drag and keep it all nicely down at the business end.
A 1/4kg of Mainline’s New Grange were carefully pulted, one by one to the spot followed by my rig.
Following my cast and having felt the solid drop into around 8 feet of water I released the line from my finger and allowed that final few yards to settle before the line lay on the weed and I slackened right off.
The weapon of choice was my Horton Rig that consists of a size 6 Covert Mugga, a Covert Hook Aligner tied to 25lb Sink Skin and attached to a drop off lead system (due to the weed) with my favourite Gardner Flat Pear inline lead. This design is actually flared at the bottom end, and due to the larger surface area at the base allows more weight transfer in the crucial first few moments after a pick up helping to set that hook home. By 5pm, whilst still melting in the oppressive 30 degree heat I waited.
There were still quite a few carp in the area and I knew they were not leaving anytime soon, and consequently I was hugely confident that when the light levels drop these basking carp would get there head down and get on the feed after a hard days sunbathing!
Due to my continuing confidence and the sure signs of carp still about by 10pm I was unusually pensive and twitchy even in the heat; edgily reacting to every line twitch or random beep as the light levels gradually dropped. Although nothing was occurring in the stifling humidity I knew it was going to happen.
Breaking the silence at crack on midnight, and attached to my right hand rod, was the stress buster. A hairy first 20 seconds was soon overcome when a sedentary ball of weed encapsulated the slippery Grange muncher. With a hopeful lunge of the net in the general vicinity of my leader the new garden I’d managed to tow back was followed by a tell tale flip” and flap that confirmed my prize was in the net – and what a prize! An original stocked, HUGE tailed Timsbury near leather lay in my net and regardless of the fact that she went smack on 30lb’s a new fish had been entered into my top 10.
I gleefully cast straight back on the spot with another bites worth of Grange and took cover from the voracious pack of mosquitoes that had taken a real liking to my sweaty, slime covered form.
I spent the next hour chatting to my neighbour, Ash, who had kindly photographed the Timsbury and the next hour or so after that was spent trying to kill every huge mosquito that had taken up residence inside the bivvy. At around 2am this mass mozzie cull was interrupted as the left hand rod required immediate attention.
A sharp kite left this time administered the sedentary weed ball that aided me last time, however the path back from this kited angle was heavily strewn with weed which made the retrieval extremely tiresome. All the way up until the point of deadlock, the fish had weeded me up good and proper and the war of attrition had begun.
I put on as much pressure as I was comfortable with but she weren’t budging, so I released a little tension and placed the rod back on the rests hoping to see the tip twitch and the line start clicking off the spool. By this point my fishing buddy Ash had joined me (again) and we deliberated on the best course of action to get the fish moving.
What must have been the best part of two hours had passed and we’d tried everything possible, from changing the line angle left and right, slackening the clutch, tightening the clutch and even reversing my people carrier (for you Ian) up and standing on the roof of it to try and get some much needed height. In hindsight this was not a great idea on what was forecast to be a seriously stormy night. Thankfully the storm stayed at a safe distance and my best impression of a lightning rod went unpunished. Unfortunately though, nothing had worked.
4am and hammered by mosquitoes, whilst awaiting the light I finally sat down on the bedchair. “Right, as soon as that lights up I can try casting a marker over it from the causeway” I thought.
It was at this point, when Ash had moved my still fishing right hand rod off of the rests to create some room that a few tell tale clicks alerted me to an occurrence. Sure enough another fish had slipped up and was starting to take line. After a very similar battle to my first, but with an extremely large weed ball snapping my first landing net attempt, I finally managed to net her.
She tipped the scales at 36lb 3oz!
Absolutely buzzed up I re-positioned the rig and 10 minutes after I’d popped it back on the spot it fantastically went off again! This time a 26lb 2oz fish lined the net. Photos were taken and having put her back I proceeded to wake Oli the bailiff to get some support. I knew I could wade down the margin and change the angle still further, but wading is banned so I played it safe and took advice and guidance.
Having tried the marker float ploy with no success the last option was to go and get the weeded fish via boat, so with Oli’s blessing (and being Island Lake members and having a boat, life jacket and a boating permit) we launched the Chunkasaurus into Kingsmead 1 and I dragged myself towards the offending weed bed. Having felt no bumps or bangs on the line for hours I was 50/50 whether she was still there but we had to be sure. Pulling for a break’s is an unacceptable option and one I’d never consider! I’d rather swim…
We all wanted to make sure first and foremost the fish was safe.
Having got above it, the line and leader were slowly hand lined up but all that greeted me was a what turned out to be an overly sharpened hook that had bent and released the fish, in any normal fishing situation this level of sharpening is fine but I hadn’t tried it under these extreme conditions (lesson learned the hard way). Having got everything back and knowing the fish was safe it gave me a chance to reflect on a fantastic, if not tiresome, nights fishing.
Rather than position the left hand rod back on the spot where I hadn’t landed the fish, I moved it closer to the right hand rod where I’d started to clear a nice clear channel back through the weed. Another bite a few moments later resulted in a cracking 33lb 2oz mirror. It really was unbelievable fishing, and with 4 fish landed including 3 thirties overnight it was a surreal experience considering these were my first carp from this particular lake.
Once the sun was back on the water the rest of the day was interspersed watching a few carp basking in the weed in front (not as many as the day before) and some good company.